Tasmania is one of Australia’s great hidden gems – and surprisingly one of the easiest to explore. With its intriguing system of uncrowded roads, open highways and gorgeous scenery, Tasmania allows you to loop around the island with your car, motorbike or caravan with relaxing ease. If you are looking to travel to Tasmania from the mainland, start your journey with a cruise across Bass Strait on the Spirit of Tasmania. The cruise service offers a relaxing ocean trip between Melbourne and Devonport and even allows you to drive your car on board the ship.
Once you sail into Devonport, it’s time to tackle the picturesque and windy roads of the Apple Isle. Begin by heading west to Burnie and then down the Ridgley and Murchison Highways to Strahan, an isolated mining-port town on the un-spoilt Macquarie Harbour. There are daily boat trips from Strahan to Sarah Island, where you can see Australia’s longest running play, “The Ship That Never Was” by the Round Earth Theatre Company.
Next head inland for two hours via the Zeehan Highway to Cradle Mountain. Towards the end of the journey you’ll pass the wonderful views of Mt Roland, before finding yourself at the doorstep of Cradle Mountain, with the glorious Dove Lake next to it. Be warned that during the winter months the highland roads around Cradle Mountain may be snow covered but it is rare for snow tyres to be required.
Now, rest up, because it’s big one coming: a 251km and 3hr drive to Launceston. Don’t fear though, along the way, you’ll come past the town of Sheffield, where you can pull over and enjoy a breather (and visit the glorious natural attractions, such as Lake Barrington and the Kimberly Warm Springs).
The first thing you’ll notice about Launceston when you arrive is its size. It is the second largest city in Tasmania and is a thriving center for art and tourism. Visit the Japanese Macaque monkeys in City Park or head across to Tasmania Zoo to see the Tasmanian Devils.
From Launceston take the Tasman Highway and follow it along as it snakes down the east coast of Tasmania towards Hobart. It’s one of Tasmania’s main roads, and home of the epic Targa Tasmania races, with some seriously tight turns and bends along the way. As you drive down the Tasman Highway, you’ll come past the town of Scottdale; the state’s logging industry focal point. For campers an exciting trip to the Northwest Park is a must.
From there, the signs will point the way straight down to the town of St Helens. Coming from Launceston, your car will clock around 2 hours and 20 minutes (163km) but it’s worth the cheap fuel. St Helens is known for its fishing port, but also its legendary Bay of Fires, a region covered in white beaches and blue beaches. Rest your feet and enjoy the day because this is only the start of the journey.
There’s only so much we can tell you, the rest of those unknown gems, are up to you to find.